WTA concerns for Peng Shuai despite IOC call 

WTA concerns for Peng Shuai despite IOC call 

WTA concerns for Peng Shuai despite IOC call 

The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai had a video phone call with the International Olympic Committee to express her wellbeing after fears she was missing following her accusations of sexual assault made against a member of the Chinese government. 

But the video call with the IOC has done little to ease the concerns from the Women’s Tennis Association who say the call does not address their concerns over Shuai’s wellbeing. 

After the video call, the IOC released a statement saying Peng appeared to be safe and well. 

The tennis star, 35, had disappeared for almost three weeks following the sexual assault allegations she made against a senior Chinese minister. 

Her disappearance triggered widespread concern and governments and sports stars collectively called upon China to prove Peng was safe. 

The international concern over Peng’s disappearance prompted Chinese state media to release a series of photographs and videos that appeared to show Peng was safe. 

Then on Sunday, the IOC released a statement saying the IOC president had held a video call with Peng. 

Peng Shuai missing

The IOC account said Peng had “thanked the IOC for its concern about her wellbeing”.

“She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time,” it added.

“She prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now,” it said. “Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis.”

The WTA  said the recent videos “don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion”.

“This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern,” it added.

The sporting rights organisation, Global Athlete, criticised what it called the IOC’s “nonchalant” approach to Peng’s disappearance and accused it of displaying “an abhorrent indifference to sexual violence and the well-being of female athletes”.

“The release pretends that Peng never made sexual assault allegations and has not been missing for more than two weeks. The statements make the IOC complicit in the Chinese authority’s malicious propaganda and lack of care for basic human rights and justice,” it added.

Lord Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics told BBC’s Today programme that the question of where Peng is and if she is ok had been “achieved by quiet diplomacy” by the IOC.

“Nobody is suggesting that there aren’t questions to be asked. Nobody is suggesting that there aren’t challenges. Look we have to maintain international relationships across sport,” he said, adding that President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach will be visiting Peng Shuai privately when he arrives in Beijing in January.

Peng Shuai tennis

Peng Shuai is a Chinese professional tennis player. She was ranked world No. 1 doubles by the WTA, the first Chinese tennis player to do so in February 2014. She peaked at No. 14 of the singles rankings in August 2011. Peng has won two singles and 22 doubles titles.

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